When Science Socks It To You!

, , , , | Learning | October 10, 2017

(The class is entering their science period.)

Teacher: *bursting through the doors* “EVERYBODY OUT! I’VE BURNT A SOCK IN THE MICROWAVE!”

Entire Class: “What?”

Teacher: *waving us out* “Go, go!”

(A noticeable stench is wafting out of the classroom. The entire class follows the teacher.)

Me: *whispering to my friends* “How did she burn a sock in the microwave?”

(We ended up staying in the garden for the next hour or so. Ever since, that room has always smelled a little bit like burnt burritos.)

Yes Over-Age, No Under-Standing

, , , , | Working | October 6, 2017

(It’s legal to purchase alcohol from the age of 18 in the UK. I am at my local liquor store purchasing a few drinks for a party later on that evening. I’m at the counter, which is being manned by a woman I’ve never seen before.)

Cashier: “Can I see your ID, please?”

Me: *hands over ID*

Cashier: “I can’t sell you these.”

Me: “Why not?”

Cashier: “This ID says you were born in 1989. That means you’re too young.”

Me: “It’s 2011.”

Cashier: “…”

Me: “I’m 21.”

Cashier: “No. Because you add twenty and take one. That means you’re too young.”

Me: “I… what?”

Cashier: *shrugging* “Kids today don’t know anything.”

Me: “But, you add twenty? Add twenty to what?”

Cashier: “Right, so 1989 add 10 is 1999, then adding another 10 makes it 2009.”

Me: “And then take one?”

Cashier: “From how old you’d be.”

(I take a second to double check what I’ve just calculated, as I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life.)

Me: “That would make me 18.”

Cashier: “Exactly!”

Me: “And still legally allowed to buy alcohol.”

(The woman stared at me for a second before putting on a strange expression, almost like she had shut down. Eventually the owner appeared after several other customers, upon seeing my ID, tried convincing her that I was in fact 21. He put through my purchase and I left swiftly after. The woman doesn’t work there anymore, but now every till has a small whiteboard next to it with whatever date it was 18 years ago and “CAN BUY ALCOHOL IF BIRTHDAY IS BEFORE:” above it.)

Slowly Getting It, One Quarter At A Time

, , , , , , | Working | October 4, 2017

(I have just ordered a meal at a fast food restaurant, and my bill comes to $4.15. I have a $5 bill and I do not want a fist full of change, so I offer the cashier a quarter and the five. She looks at me blankly.)

Cashier: “That’s too much. I just need the five.”

Me: “Can you just give me the change?”

Cashier: “I can give you change for the five. I don’t need the quarter.”

Me: “I really don’t want all that change, if you don’t mind.”

Cashier: “Uh, I don’t know if I can do that.”

Me: “Just give me a dollar and a dime.”

Cashier: “I’ll have to check with the manager about this. It doesn’t look right.”

(Summons the manager.)

Manager: “What’s the problem?”

Me: “The bill is $4.15. I gave the cashier $5.25, but she doesn’t know how to make change for it.”

Manager: “We just need the five. You get 85 cents change.”

Me: “I’d prefer to not have all that change. Just give me a dollar and a dime.”

Manager: “Listen, bud. We get scammers in here all the time. If you don’t want to pay, I’ll call the cops.”

Me: *surrenders* “That won’t be necessary. I’ll just take the change.”

Manager: “Ring him up.”

(I give the cashier $5, she gives me three quarters and a dime change. I pocket the dime and pull out my quarter.)

Me: “Can I get a dollar bill for these four quarters?”

Manager: “Sure! We can always use the quarters!”

The Science Of Poetry

, , , | Related | September 30, 2017

(I am talking to my 16-year-old cousin, about physics.)

Cousin: “Really? Scientists found the most common and mysterious substance in the universe, and just called it ‘Dark Matter’?”

Me: “Yep. That’s what happens when scientists name things instead of poets.”

A Slight Wrinkle In The Definition

, , , , , , | Learning | September 29, 2017

(I’m talking to some of my students in a tutorial. The conversation goes from the topic of the course, Markov chains, to population genetics, an application of Markov chains, to experimental testing of population genetics, to a rather neat result where colonies of bacteria oscillate between being free-living and forming colony mats on the top of the nutrient solution. These colony mats are known as “wrinkly spreaders”.)

Me: “If you want to learn more about this, do a web search on ‘wrinkly spreader.’”

Student: *with disgust* “I am not Googling ‘wrinkly spreader’!”

Me: “Um, that interpretation had not occurred to me.”

(The student need not have worried; I’ve just tried the web search, and gerontological porn was completely absent.)

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